Film Scholarships: Funding Opportunities for Movie Makers

Today’s multimedia world offers unprecedented opportunities for aspiring filmmakers, who can find work in a variety of fields ranging from documentary filming to big-budget Hollywood productions. A degree in filmmaking from an accredited school can launch a lucrative career in the arts, but costs can be prohibitive. For qualified applicants, though, a number of film scholarships are available to ease the burden of tuition and other program costs.

Degrees and certificates in film can be earned from four-year colleges, dedicated film schools and community colleges, both online and in traditional classroom formats. While many of these institutions offer their own scholarship and grant programs, a number of external film scholarships are also offered from individual endowments, foundations for the arts, and organizations such as the Screen Actors Guild and the American Film Institute. Finally, video and essay contests also offer scholarships as prizes.

Individual endowments and scholarship funds created by and for individuals include the Bret Ratner Grant offered by the New York Film Academy for film students at all levels, including the Masters in Fine Arts. The Francis D. Lyon Scholarship, named for the Oscar-winning director, offers financial aid to both graduate and undergraduate film students.

Some film scholarships are also aimed at supporting individuals of specific ethnic groups and genders. The Jack G. Shaheen Mass Communications Scholarship Award recognizes outstanding African American students in Media Studies, with majors including film as well as other aspects of the visual arts.

The Media Action Network for Asian Americans also offers a small scholarship for students of Asian descent pursuing degrees in film and television production. For women students, Women in Film offers film scholarships supporting study in cinematography, directing and editing.

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Grants and scholarships offered by arts foundations and other professional organizations also support high school and college students pursuing a career in filmmaking and related fields. The New York Women in Communications Foundation Scholarship Program awards scholarships in communications and media to students living in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or Pennsylvania. The CBC Spouses Visual Arts Scholarship also supports outstanding students pursuing a variety of visual arts degrees, and the Washington Media Scholars Foundation recognizes exceptional students in media fields with up to five $5,000 scholarships each academic year.

Professional cinema organizations and companies also support film students with scholarships and grants. The American Film Institute Conservatory provides an elite education to promising students, and awards annual film scholarships to graduate students. Similarly, the Screen Actors Guild funds the John Dales Scholarship for members and dependents of members who need funds for college study in filmmaking and other majors. And the Eastman Kodak Scholarship Program awards $5,000 scholarships to student filmmakers on the basis of a student film and recommendations from film school faculty.

Film contests, festivals and competitions also offer opportunities for scholarships. The ReelDreams Film Competition accepts short film entries for critiquing by professionals, with the possibility of winning a full-tuition scholarship to Regent University’s School for Communication and the Arts. Festivals and camps also offer film scholarship opportunities. The Austin Film Festival offers over 300 scholarships for teachers and students from middle and high schools to attend workshops and classes on filmmaking through its Arts Education Scholarship Program.

Scholarships are also available from dedicated film schools such as Britain’s National Film and Television School, which offers scholarships to both international and local students of all aspects of film, including directing and cinematography. In the United States, film schools such as Full Sail University and the Seattle Film Institute offer financial aid and scholarships to selected groups such as veterans interested in pursing various careers in cinematography.

Film school opens doors to the many careers available in cinema, including cinematography, directing, film scoring and producing. For all these goals, film scholarships from traditional colleges, foundations and professional organizations and other sources offer ways to bring a career in film within the reach of any aspiring filmmaker.